Free agency is set to begin throughout the NHL next week, but while teams cannot formally offer contracts to another team's pending free agents until July 1, they are now allowed to express their interest.
Beginning Wednesday, general managers have until June 30 to sell their respective organizations to targeted free agents and discuss the parameters of a potential contract.
After some confusion derived from the interview process last summer, the NHL sent a memo to all teams explicitly detailing the rules.
“Clubs are permitted to discuss their potential interest in, as well as the general parameters of, a potential future contractual relationship with another Club’s pending RFA or UFA during the applicable ‘interview periods,’" the memo read. "But Clubs may not enter into any agreements, or make any binding offers, promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent, or understandings of any kind, express or implied, oral or written, concerning the terms of a potential SPC with another Club’s pending RFA or UFA.”
While expounding his approach to free agency last week, Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan said that "there’s a couple of guys that we’re going to pursue up to a certain point." Meanwhile, Washington has two unrestricted free agents of its own: forwards Dustin Penner and Mikhail Grabovski.
It is unlikely that Penner, acquired at the trade deadline last season, will return. Yet Grabovski's camp has been in contract discussions with the Capitals since January. Agent Gary Greenstin has repeatedly said that his 30-year-old client is comfortable in Washington, but that he will spend the next several days exploring other options.
"We definitely will be entertaining offers and keep options open," Greenstin said in an email Tuesday, adding that he will be traveling to Philadelphia, the site of this weekend's NHL draft, Wednesday. "Most likely, I will see Brian MacLellan and continue discussions."
It is believed that Grabovski is seeking a four- to five-year contract worth $5 million annually. That would be similar to the five-year, $27.5 million contract that was bought out by the Toronto Maple Leafs last July. He signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Capitals last August.
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